Leaders and followers of CPI (M), CPI, YSR Congress, Telangana Rasthra Samiti, BJP and MCPI staged a sit-in in the court-hall of the public hearing held by Andhra Pradesh Electricity Regulatory Commission (APERC) here on Monday over proposals by distribution companies to collect another Rs.983 crore from consumers as Fuel Surcharge Adjustment Charges (FSAC).

This forced APERC chairman A. Raghothma Rao to adjourn the exercise abruptly.

The discoms proposed to collect a sum of Rs.983 crore as FSAC from consumers pertaining to the second quarter of 2012-13 (July, August and September) to “offset the impact of power purchases from traders and coal/gas price hike”. Soon after M. Venugopala Rao, a journalist and a regular petitioner at such public hearings, completed his submissions against the proposals, CPI (M) State secretary B.V. Raghavulu spoke a few words before staging a sit-in on the ground facing the chair occupied by Mr. Rao along with followers, shouting slogans. Within no time, State CPI secretary K. Narayana, T. Harish Rao (TRS), Janak Prasad (YSR Congress) and senior BJP leader Bandaru Dattatreya joined him, bringing the hearing to a halt.

Mr. Rao, who was accompanied by C.R. Sekhar Reddy and R. Ashokachary, both APERC members, could not move out for sometime. All those on protest were arrested later and released. The evening part of the hearing, however, went on well participated by nine petitioners, all speaking against hefty hike introduced in power tariff camouflaged as FSAC.

This was the first time that such an incident took place at the public hearing. The amount permitted so far by APERC to be collected from consumers as FSAC has already reached a whopping Rs.10,804 crore for the period from 2008-09 to 2012-13, including Rs.1,741 crore for 2012-13 first quarter.

If the APERC concedes the fresh plea by discoms, an extra burden of Rs.983 crore will be added, resulting in power bills going up by 82 paise per unit.

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